St. Louis native Maya Angelou is first black woman to appear on U.S. quarter


ST. LOUIS – St. Louis native Maya Angelou is the first black woman to appear on the U.S. quarter. The U.S. Mint is shipping out new quarters featuring five trailblazing American women beginning with Angelou who was a renowned author, poet, entertainer, and activist.

Angelou’s birth name was Marguerite Johnson and she was born in a brick two-story in the city of St. Louis. 

“She said ‘I’m so pleased to be here among the world’s first African American women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority,’ ” said Peggy Lewis LeCompte, a former international officer of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.  

“I remember it cause in moments like that, you’re just overwhelmed to see the real person in the flesh.” 

Owner of Blueberry Hill, Joe Edwards, fondly remembers spending time with Angelou.

“She could do everything,” he said. “She could write poetry or write books, or teach at Wake Forest in North Carolina. She could act in Roots and was just unbelievable.” 

The new quarter, which went into circulation Monday, features George Washington on one side and Angelou, the outspoken civil rights activist, on the other.

“It’s a beautiful quarter with her arms stretched out in a wing design behind her, and her name is on the quarter as well. And it’s a beautiful coin because she was a performer as well and an actress,” said Clay Teague, Numismatist Scotsman Coin & Jewelry. “A very elegant lady who looks great on a quarter.” 

LeCompte won’t forget meeting the larger-than-life Angelou, making her mark in U.S. history. 

“This will remind us in a very first-class way of what women have done,” she said. “How far women have come and how far people have come.” 

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